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Colorado high-speed rail feasibility study in works

(The following story by Kevin Flynn appeared on the Rocky Mountain News website on August 13.)

DENVER — The push for high-speed rail service along the Front Range and up the Interstate 70 corridor to Grand Junction got a new head of steam Tuesday when backers announced the kickoff of a one-year feasibility study.

"The goal is to determine whether this is technically feasible, financially feasible and economically feasible," said Harry Dale, a Clear Creek County commissioner who heads the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority.

The $1.5 million study is a necessary step to applying for federal designation as a national high- speed rail corridor. Current legislation authorizes 11 such corridors, and 10 already have been designated.

To be designated for federal funding, a train would have to maintain average speeds higher than 90 mph, a challenge in a mountain environment.

The Colorado Department of Transportation provided $1.2 million for the study, and the authority's 45 county, city and planning agency members provided the rest. The study will be done by Transportation Economic and Management Systems Inc. of Frederick, Md.

The study will examine costs, schedule, alignments, station locations and potential ridership along the interstate corridors as well as several spurs to Steamboat Springs and Craig, Aspen, Breckenridge, Winter Park and Central City.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

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